The SWA has a sanitary landfill, not a dump! A dump is an unregulated hole in the ground that people throw trash in. What make SWA landfills sanitary is layers of thick plastic liner and clay that protect the land and water below. You can see and touch examples of those liners hanging on the wall.
Have you ever had your garbage drip on you? That liquid is called leachate. Imagine if it rained on a pile of garbage bags in a dumpster and they leaked. This is similar to what might happen in a landfill. There would be a pool of leachate at the bottom. A leachate collection system removes this garbage juice and keeps it from entering our groundwater.
Once the liners and collection system are in place, we start placing trash in it. You can think of a landfill like a lasagna with layers of garbage or ash and a daily cover of approved materials. We build up layers until the landfill reaches about 160 feet above sea level. When the landfill reaches capacity, a plastic layer is put on top to cap it and make sure nothing gets in or out. After it’s capped off, we grow grass on it and give it back to Palm Beach County residents!
Do you know what happens to a landfill after it’s capped off and closed? In Palm Beach County, we give it back to you, the residents! We grow grass on top of the cap and turn it into things like a park or a golf course. Dyer Park is a former landfill. And if you have ever gone golfing at Park Ridge Golf Course in Lantana, that used to be a landfill too! But don’t worry – if you dig into the ground you will not find old banana peels, chicken bones or apple cores, because it has been capped. And in case you’re wondering, there is no foul odor.